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Melissa Ng


July 21, 2013

Breathing Room (+ freedom)

July 21, 2013 | By | 11 Comments

I bet you don’t give yourself much of it, do you?

Now, I don’t just mean giving yourself room to move and breathe comfortably, although that’s just as important. When I talk about breathing room, I mean being self-compassionate and being able to forgive yourself so that you can move forward.

Let’s be honest now. Giving ourselves room to breathe is just another one of those things we often say we’ll do, but flounder with when it comes to actually doing it…like being more patient, practicing gratitude, remembering the daily joys in life, taking real breaks, and not thinking about work every waking moment.

But when you’re caught struggling, making mistakes, feeling lost, battling with insecurity or stumbling into failure, your ideas (hopes, dreams) can feel like they’re closing in on you. Overwhelming you. And to make matters worse, let me guess…

You punish yourself.

You call yourself out on all your perceived flaws, feel guilty about stepping away from work, worry about what other people think/say about you, and blame yourself for not being stronger. Maybe you’ve even expressed some variation of the following:

Idiot. What’s the point? No one will ever take you seriously. You’re a useless nobody!

The chaos of your own self-deprecating thoughts can feel like they’re swirling uncontrollably around you. Honestly, sometimes I wish there was just an “off” switch to simply shut them down. Although such an option doesn’t exist, there is another way…

Listen and (re)discover the good within yourself…because it’s there.

You just need to give yourself the chance to plant the seeds.

Yes, it’s always tougher to remember your best self, but you deserve better and so does the work you have to offer to the world. Deep down, the seeds of self-compassion are fighting for the space to grow. Give them the freedom to take root by asking yourself:

What accomplishments have I made in the past or today? What can others always count on me for?

No matter how big or small, take a few minutes to write them down, now. Please? 😉 If you’re not sure or if your mind is feeling too cluttered by your own thoughts, then ask someone else who knows you well.

And if you catch yourself getting caught up in the tangles of your own negativity and personal takedowns again, pause, take a breath, ask yourself these questions again and repeat.

I know it’s not easy. After all, most of us aren’t masters at being our own cheerleaders, but in the end we have to be.

What does your inner critic like to say to you and how do you like to handle it? Share in the comments.


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  1. My constant critic is always telling me I’m not doing enough, I should be doing more. I’m a failure because I haven’t made more happen faster. I think that’s largely because I find myself looking at others who have come before me and how well they are doing, but also because I’m in the sticky situation of needing to bring in more income quicker.

    • Trying not to compare myself to others is a tough one for me too. For what it’s worth, you’ve been kicking so much ass unlike anyone I’ve ever seen in a relatively short period of time. And I know I’m not the only one who sees that ;D

  2. I guess mine is saying that I’m fooling everyone. My friends tell me I’m strong and courageous, but there are days I just want to hide under my blankets, escape from the pressures of the world, and read a book all day long in my comfy p.j.s.

    Being a grown up in today’s fast-paced, loud, Western world can be very exhausting, especially after a season of pushing through the resistance and pain to heal or to do what’s right even when it’s the hardest thing to do.

    I think it’s a great idea to ask our supportive friends for feedback. I think they’re often more willing to see the best in us than we are ourselves. I think sometimes that I see all of me, even on my bad days when I feel lazy and not productive, when I’m just done with the effort of measuring up to my own expectations. And I think my friends don’t see that part of me. But I bet they do and that they’re actually being gracious with me, knowing that none of us can be 100% productive or on top of things. That it’s actually in our quirks and flaws that we find we are unique. And it’s often the very reason why people like us.

    I think people would look at you, Melissa, as an encourager. I’d like to encourage you back to allow yourself to breathe and recognize that it’s not laziness but wisdom and room for growth that you are creating within yourself when you do so.

    Thanks for reminding me that when I feel stuck that perhaps that’s the best time to just breathe, just be.

    One of my favorite sayings from a wise woman I know is “Simplify. Clean and clear. And be ready to move forward.” I think great things are just around the corner for those of us who give ourselves room to breathe. So glad you shared this. Thanks!

    • Lois, thanks so much some great points nad thoughtful comment. And thank you for your kind words of encouragement. Means a lot to me <3

  3. My inner critic has had a lot more training than my inner cheerleader. The critic had a head start by about 30 years, starting in childhood. Mine usually says, “You’re not good enough. You’re too late. You got left behind.”

    It’s only recently that I’ve really started to talk back to and argue with my inner critic. Cognitive behavioral therapy and mindfulness training have helped immensely to make me aware of automatic negative thoughts, the stress/pain trigger cycle, and how to challenge and replace the half-truths and inaccuracies I believed were absolute.

    I love your message of giving yourself breathing room. I feel relief and acceptance when I look at your illustration. We all need to be gentler with ourselves.

    • Yeah, being our own cheerleaders is a never-ending workout -_- I talk back to my inner critic as well and tend to question my critic’s authority. I often ask “Why?” I would say something harmful to myself in the hopes that I may uncover the root of some of my insecurities. Thanks for sharing your experience, Chanlee 🙂

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